Does a camper van conversion business need Liability Insurance?


If you convert camper vans as a business, Liability insurance is essential. After all, you are messing with your customer’s vehicles.

Necessary covers such as Public Liability, Defective Workmanship, Service and Sales Indemnity are a must for your business, but do you really understand what you are buying? Do you know what it’s going to cover? One of the most frequent questions we are asked is, ‘Yeah, I know I need it, but what for? What does it cover?’

Liability Insurance for camper van converters is a policy suitable for a business in the motor trade. It protects a business against claims brought against it, such as legal action for alleged negligence against a member of the public. This might be for loss or damage to their property or injury to them, and it will provide legal defence and pay compensation should you be found responsible.

Phew, there we are. That’s it in a nutshell.

So, what does the camper converter’s Liability Insurance cover?

 Top of the list you might expect is Public Liability Insurance, but is this the most crucial cover you need? Well, that depends on what you do. Convert your own vans and sell them, do conversions for other people or even a mixture of the two.

Public Liability Insurance is at the top of the product tree. You can’t really get the other important covers without it. Generally, they are nicely wrapped up in one Combined Liability package or form part of a policy covering things like Business Contents…

Public Liability Insurance simply covers loss, damage or injury for people coming to your premises or if you are away from your business and cause damage. Defective Workmanship Insurance is for when things go wrong, such as causing damage to your customer’s vehicles, sales indemnity or servicing cover, product liability, where you are supplying the goods and of course, compulsory Employers Liability. This is where you have people providing labour to you, or they are employed in the business. It also covers volunteers and unpaid workers, like your friend that helps you with the popup roof, bolting the kitchen in or mounting a rear pod.

So how does Liability cover work? Liability insurance is essential for every business. However, sometimes it’s more about what Liability cover does not cover rather than what it does, but we will come to that further on.

Let’s look at a few Liability Insurance scenarios…

The cover most businesses understand is Public Liability Insurance – many examples of this talk about people coming to your premises and slipping, tripping etc. As someone would on, let’s say, a slippery floor in a shop. However, it does expand a bit further than this, depending on what you are doing.

Whilst delivering that shiny new camper van to your customer, you are invited in. You’re at their property, and you turn around and accidentally knock that priceless Ming vase off the 17th-century French coffee table – not only have you destroyed the vase, but you have also scratched the coffee table. Is the customer likely to hold you responsible? Highly likely. Your insurer would provide legal defence and pay any compensation that might be awarded.

Whilst working in your premises, the heat gun you are using ignites that solvent cloth causing a small fire. Your landlord is likely to be unimpressed as you have caused damage to the building. Yes, you guessed it, someone is likely coming after you and your hard-earned pennies.

Defective Workmanship Insurance

Your customer requires some sexy lighting in his camper van; this involves not only fitting the lights, but you install a whole new electrical circuit connecting them to the existing electrics. The result of this is fire damage to the customer’s vehicle. The probability is that it’s your fault, and if you are proven negligent, then your insurer is there to help.

Sales Indemnity

Having sold a van that you have recently converted, 100 metres down the road, a few wheels and panels fall off, causing damage to another vehicle and causing injury. Yes, a bit extreme… but you get the idea.

Employers Liability

So, you have progressed from working independently, converting camper vans, to now having someone help you. This changes things a little, as it’s a legal requirement to have this cover in place. This protects your van conversion business from claims from an employee should they be injured whilst working for you; it also pays compensation where the responsibility was down to the business.

What does Liability Insurance for camper van converters not cover?

Blissful ignorance is great, one might say, other than when it comes to insurance, what you don’t know, you don’t know. It is just as important to understand what you are not covered for as much as what you are.

The important point with Liability Insurance is that you are covered for the resultant damage. It usually doesn’t cover damage to the item you are working on; there are always exceptions, of course. For instance, if the customer wants that new diesel heater and you cause a fire whilst fitting it, damaging the vehicle, the damage to the vehicle is covered. However, the loss of the diesel heater isn’t. That’s just how it works.

Can I buy insurance that will cover the damage I do to the item?

Sometimes insurance can be bought that can be extended, as can rectification. However, this is getting way beyond the standard liability insurance, and advice should be sought separately.

So where does it work? What’s the point of having cover when it doesn’t cover what I want it to? Here are your answers…

Does Liability Insurance cover work that you have done to your own camper van?

No, Liability doesn’t cover any loss or damage that you have done to your own property, as an example…

To fill in time between jobs, you thought it a good idea to start buying the occasional van to convert and sell, perhaps your own brand of camper vans. Unfortunately, whilst rewiring some new lighting, you managed to set fire to the van itself. Would this be covered under a camper van converters liability policy? No, it’s your own property, and as mentioned above, you can’t claim against yourself.

A liability policy doesn’t allow you to claim for your own damage. If, whilst the fire was well alight, it did damage to, say, the landlord’s property, then that would normally be covered. You don’t own that property.

Can I obtain liability insurance for damage to the item you have been working on?

Sometimes a policy can be extended to include damage to the item that you are working on, that popup roof, the pull-out kitchen, the pod, whatever the item may be. If you damage what your customer asked you to do in the first place, then this typically would be excluded from cover. Damage to the item being worked on the extension would cover the item itself. There are still exclusions, though.

Do you really need liability cover when you are working on Camper Vans?

The ball is firmly in your court on that one… simple answer is yes. Although, like most vehicles, Camper Vans are not cheap, and even in their raw state as a van before being converted. Could you afford to damage your customers’ vehicles? We didn’t think so.

Liability cover for your camper conversion business can be obtained on its own. It’s better, though, to be part of a specific motor trade policy that provides all the cover you need.
You can speak to us about this; we are specialist motor trade insurance brokers providing insurance for converters. Give our team a call to find out more about what Real Insurance Group can offer in this specialist market.

Is liability insurance for my camper van conversion business a legal requirement?

It’s not, no. You would be mad to trade without it. The only compulsory insurance is Employers’ Liability, where you engage labour in your business and, of course, compulsory motor insurance. Just because it’s not a legal requirement doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have cover though, thinking well something isn’t going to happen to you is great, until it does.

Does public Liability insurance cover me for damage that I do to my own vehicles?

In a nutshell, no. It doesn’t, remember that liability insurance protects you and pays compensation where you have been proven negligent, having caused loss, damage, or injury to a third party.

What if I damaged my customer’s goods before they were fitted?

It depends on the interpretation of customers’ goods and the damage that has been done to them . If you damaged the goods before they were fitted, let’s say whilst in your workshop then depending on the circumstances and you were proven negligent then your insurer should be there to help.

Does a Liability Insurance policy all types of liability cover that I need as a vehicle conversion business?
Usually, a policy for the motor trade will provide the many different covers you may need as a vehicle conversion business, whether this is a just a Combined Liability Policy or a much wider policy that covers your contents, the vehicles and the Road Risks.